Intercepts

WORMS, Germany --

Live from 5th Sig. The Interceptor has moved his fly-away rig here, to the HQ of the Army 5th Signal Command, to get the kind of information on Operation Joint Endeavor he'd never find prowling the E-ring. This week he will deploy a special ruggedized Interceptor unit to Bosnia, Croatia and Hungary.

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A whole lot of dialin' goin' on. The Army troops in Joint Endeavor make a lot of phone calls, according to Brig. Gen. Robert Nabors, the 5th Sig commander. Traffic volume runs about 65,000 calls a day over a mind-boggling combination of tactical and military circuits. This includes 171-plus DSN trunks, 55 tactical satcom terminals, 81 tactical switches and 13 commercial VSAT terminals.

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Pushing DISA down the food chain. That's how Col. Michael Armstrong, commander of DISA-EUR, describes his agency's role in support of Joint Endeavor. Armstrong, interviewed at his HQ at Patch Barracks in Stuttgart, said the agency has installed IDNX routers at 12 of the 24 Forward Operating Bases in Bosnia, bringing that famed DISN "cloud" really close to the troops.

This includes packing up commercial satellite dishes for transport in tactical aircraft to Tuzla and then overseeing their installation in what Armstrong described as "a former mudhole" in Bosnia. And some of you thought DISA folks just stayed in the rear with the gear.

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VTC babies. Video teleconferencing (VTC) has become such a fact of life in Joint Endeavor that it has even been used to show off new life, with a deployed soldier in Bosnia able to see his new baby via a tactical link from the field to the main V Corps VTC studio in Heidelberg, said Helmut Kiessling of Cubic Corp., who helps run the system.

Primary use of the system, which runs about 24 hours a day, is to support the top commanders, and according to Nabors, they love it.

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The DOE VTC connection. The Energy Department developed the VTC system used in the V Corp Advanced CP under the Work for Others Program, according to Paul Demint, a systems engineer for Lockheed Martin, which acts as the systems engineer for the program. Army Spec. 4 Holly Johnson runs the PictureTel system connecting four countries with a point-and-click interface. She said the hardest part of the job is "figuring out exactly who is speaking" and then putting that person on camera.

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Don't forget to floss. That's good advice for troops in Bosnia and Hungary, who will soon experience the miracles of teledentistry, part of an extensive telemedicine network the Army plans to install to support Joint Endeavor. Army Lt. Col. Tom Semarge, the biomedical information systems officer at Landstuhl Army Medical Center, said telemedicine systems planned for Bosnia will include scopes for use by dentists miles away to help with checkups and to guide treatments. I know what those remote dentists will say: "This will only hurt a little bit."

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Bosnia 90210? That's probably coming soon, as the Armed Forces Network extends its reach into the operation area, with 10 out of 24 forward bases blanketed by AFN TV and 13 with radio stations. It must be weird to see "Oprah" in Bosnia.

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